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Oklahoma Department of Human Services director defends agency, commissioners

Howard Hendrick said agency doing a lot of right things.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: September 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm •  Published: September 21, 2011

Hendrick said Tuesday, “I think there's not an appreciation of what other members are doing. We have some members of our commission who focus on our property needs. We have other members of our commission who focus on our finances. We have other members of the commission who focus on different parts of the agency. So, a lot depends on where the commissioners' interests are. … It's like any other board.”

Some programs touted

Hendrick said the agency is doing well in lots of areas and leads the nation in such things as getting children adopted out of foster care and collecting child support.

About Serenity's case, Hendrick said workers didn't follow policies that would have brought to light things about the father. “We can't say whether or not — if those things had been checked — a different result would have happened. They may have still concluded that it was OK to send the child home and the same result would have happened.”

Four workers involved in the case were suspended in June after Serenity's death. One then killed himself. Another resigned. The last two were fired this month.

Hendrick, 56, a former state senator, has been DHS director since July 1, 1998. He makes $162,750 a year and has refused to take more pay, the commission chairman has said.